Feature Stories

MMW Jazz Band Performs Student-Composed Song at District Festival

The Minnetonka Middle School West Jazz Band performed an original composition by Anna Golikova ‘28 at this year’s District Jazz Festival. Golikova, who plays the upright bass, was the featured soloist in her own piece, called “My Swingin’ Sunshine.” 

“This is the first time I have had a group perform a student composition,” shared Heidi Bunde, the MMW Jazz Band teacher. "The other jazz band students were especially supportive of Anna’s accomplishment. There is a sense of camaraderie and community that has developed in the music program that is second to none. It is exciting and inspiring to see seniors in high school cheering on middle school musicians."

Golikova has been a member of the Jazz Band since sixth grade, but her musical journey began much earlier. She started playing her main instrument, the bass, at age 9, while also picking up the drums, the trombone and electric bass on the way. In addition to playing in the Jazz Band at school, she is a member of various local ensembles, including the Concert Orchestra at Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies.

“I had a classical piano background as a little kid, but I got into jazz when I first joined the MMW Jazz Band in 6th grade. Jazz has since then been by far my favorite music genre,” she said. “For me, music is a really helpful way to express myself without having to put feelings into words. It's also just really fun!”

Golikova later found an outlet for her music passion in composing music in addition to playing it. She wrote her first jazz piece at age 11. Since then, she has composed a number of pieces, including “My Swingin’ Sunshine,” and hopes to continue in the summer.

“When I was little, I would come up to my piano and make up random melodies and chords that I thought sounded good, which, I guess, fueled my passion for composing,” she shared. “As to why I started composing, my honest answer is because it was fun and I enjoyed making things that sound good. I am also extremely interested in music theory, so putting my knowledge to use was really interesting.”

She compared the inevitable roadblocks in the composition process to the writer’s block experienced by authors. “Having to re-listen to every single part in your piece multiple times can be tedious, but it feels so good when you finally get it right. The rewarding feeling of the piece finally sounding good, and even being performed and getting attention, is indescribable.”

Golikova has found joy and growth in composing two complete pieces so far. Two years ago, showed her first ever composition to Bunde, who supported and worked alongside Golikova to make edits. This experience inspired Golikova to write her second piece, “My Swingin’ Sunshine,” which she worked hard all summer to craft and refine. She was overjoyed when the piece was chosen to be performed by the Jazz Band.

“Getting to perform My Swingin' Sunshine at the District Jazz Festival made my musical aspirations more real than I ever thought they would get,” she expressed. “It was absolutely phenomenal. I couldn't compare the pride and exhilaration to anything I'd ever felt before. It was so amazing knowing that I did something that mattered to people, that I could actually be proud of. It was also incredible to see that my bandmates were willing to put effort into a piece I composed. I can't thank them enough for making my dream a reality.”

Going forward, Golikova certainly plans to keep music as a central part of her life. She recently started sharing her composition on social media, and she plans to audition for a prestigious high school jazz band made up of students from all over the nation. 

“I will 100% keep playing, listening to and composing music when I grow up. Overall, I'm really excited for what my future in music has to offer for me!”

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